Riding on the increased focus on the fight against climate change, the fashion industry’s eco-pioneer Stella McCartney turned parts of her Paris Fashion Week show into a manifesto on ecology.
At her first show as part of the LVMH luxury conglomerate, the British-American designer is hoping she can change fashion from within, one collection at a time.
Here are some highlights of Monday’s ready-to-wear 2020 spring-summer collections:
Stella McCartney let loose at the Paris’ Opera Garnier with a deceptively simple collection of fluidly feminine designs that retained its freshness via voluminous proportions.
The 51 soft looks, centring on optical stripes and decorative embroideries, were shown to a contrasting thumping soundtrack, peppered with expletives. It had guests including “Game of Thrones” actress Maisie Williams and British singer Ellie Goulding smiling.
At times, guests’ attention wandered to clips of mating wild animals that McCartney had chosen to project on the gilded, golden 19th-century opera house walls.
The understated collection’s styles, rather than provoke, created harmony.
Gentle shapes in the form of flattened torsos, rounded shoulders and high flat waists were sometimes given an optical lift by teeming boho florals.
They riffed on McCartney’s signature hints of men’s tailoring and sportswear.
The strongest looks were the fruit of simple, yet bold, designs ideas: Such as a luxuriant flappy copper skirt constructed by two large discs of material stitched at the sides.
All clothes were, of course, 100% eco-friendly — although in the luxury appearance of the material, it wasn’t apparent.
“I hope that when you see that fashion show, you don’t see in any way that it’s a sustainable fashion show. And yet it is ... It’s about being desirable and beautiful and luxurious,” McCartney said.
“That is the future of fashion. We have to get to that place,” she added.
Each guest was given “program notes” that had little directly to do with the collection they were about to see.
Instead of the usual blurb about a collection’s starting point, at Monday’s morning show the text was a sort of eco-manifesto, which detailed in timeline-form all Stella McCartney has done over two decades at the top of fashion to help promote ecological awareness.
“I wanted to bring everything I’ve done since day one into the conversation, because it’s so important the fashion industry doesn’t make (ecology) a trend,” she told The Associated Press.
McCartney said she felt like the ecological awareness that has been central to her message since forgoing leather, fur, skin, feather and animal glue in 2001 is finally part of a global conversation — and one that extends far beyond the industry.
“It’s been an incredible week for me to observe outside of our industry. The climate crisis has just been so explosive and everyone’s been talking about it,” she said.
Without naming her directly, she evoked the 16-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg and the focus on the fight against climate change at the United Nations.
“The younger generation are standing up and telling us that our house is on fire and we need to respond,” she said.
Across the years, McCartney has introduced incremental changes, such as in 2010, when the designer went PVC free and, in 2015, when she launched fur-free fur. She says she hopes that little by little, these small changes will move the entire industry in a more ecological direction.
McCartney’s late mother Linda McCartney was a high-profile animal rights activist and in some ways she has seized the mantle of her work.
It was appropriate the interview was interrupted by the visit of another of fashion’s activist figures, Vivienne Westwood, who poked her head backstage alongside former Beatle father Paul McCartney.
They were followed by model Natalia Vodianova, who was wearing a vegan leather coat.
It prompted one fashion critic to quip: “I can’t believe it’s not bison.”
In her first solo ready-to-wear show since Karl Lagerfeld’s death, Chanel designer Virginie Viard had a lot to prove.
And by recreating a sprawling Parisian roofscape inside the Grand Palais with a front row including Sting and Cardi B, Viard showed she intended to take on Lagerfeld’s mantel of showmanship. But in an unfortunate twist, a runway crasher — a French comedian who shot out from the seated area to walk theatrically with the models — ended up stealing the show in a publicity stunt.
Chanel used its formidable show coffers to recreate a cityscape of Haussmannian roofs: Replete with lead tiling, windows with shutters, railings and chimneys.
With a cracked window pane, weathered rainfall markings and a decidedly grey — not blue — spring sky, it’s clear that the set this season favoured realism over romance. Wet guests coming in from the drizzling Paris weather just added to the ambience.
Yet the show — and it 83 wearable designs featuring truncated tweeds and A-line miniskirts — seemed to lack in romance.
Many looks evoked the city’s famed understated style: A pair of high-waist cropped jeans was set off with a simple white striped knit jacket, on which a large rose broach subtly matched the model’s red lips. Silver shorts were as fantastical as this grounded collection got.
Tweed mini-dresses were, as ever, beautifully-executed, coming this season with slightly dropped pockets in a gamine style. Stripes and checks appeared across layered skirts and down Chanel’s dresses in a gentle visual kinesis.
But the ready-to-wear collection — Viard’s first as a solo force at the design helm — seemed to lack a central idea.
Lagerfeld’s daringly inventive silhouettes are a hard act to follow — and this display, though both wearable and highly chic — fell short of the sunshine.
MIU MIU’S QUIRKS
Perhaps the rain was keeping them away.
Miu Miu’s once-formidable front row was more of a low key affair Tuesday — although singer Rita Ora, model Alexa Chung and socialite Olivia Palermo added glamour.
Yet the humour and eccentric contrasts associated with Prada’s quirky little sister brand remained unchanged in the show itself, which featured blown-up prints and buttons.
Gigi Hadid, fresh from diverting Chanel’s catwalk crasher, was back on the runway in one of the best early Miu Miu looks: A large white skirt that was crisply pleated with V-straps and lace-up PVC boots.
The proportions of an oversized black woollen menswear jacket were mirrored by its big blown-up buttons, and came above a ruffled split skirt and kinky green lace-up boots.
Elsewhere, pieces of contrasting-coloured fabric appeared across busts or at the hip, as if blown onto the model by a gust of wind.
Spring is a season that comes naturally to a designer like flower-loving Giambattista Valli.
Checks, ribbons and embroideries teemed on the mainly-bright designs — ones that clung closely to the Italian designer’s trademark floral motifs inside the historic Museum of Decorative Arts.
This season, Valli also explored flowers in a figurative way.
They were evoked in the actual shapes and silhouettes of the diaphanous and frothy silk gowns.
Pale feather head pieces that were designed in circles evoked petals.
While round, gathered shoulder sections were constructed in a “dropped” fashion on the elbows, conjuring up images of a flower opening up in full bloom.
Some of the best designs employed these flower metaphors: Such as a sporty, white shoulder-less gown that had fashion insiders snapping their cameras. There was much artistry in its large ripples at the hem that resembled the delicate curved flesh of a rose petal.
CHANEL’S FASHION INTRUDER
At the finale for the Chanel show, a guest resembling a Mary Poppins figure in tweed, identified as a French YouTuber and comedian Marie Benoliel, stood up and boldly walked onto the runway.
With a theatrical nod to confused spectators, some of whom momentarily thought she was part of the presentation, Benoliel then started to strut down the rooftop runway with all the other models. Apart from the slightly besheveled swagger in her walk, she almost blended in.
The catwalk crasher moved so quickly that Chanel’s bewildered security team didn’t have time to catch up. Gigi Hadid, who put the super in supermodel, saved the day by apprehending the hat-wearing lady at the end of the podium. She and other models then escorted Benoliel off the roof.
Benoliel has done this before, according to her YouTube channel, on which she posted the Chanel stunt. She previously managed to get onstage at an Etam show with Cindy Bruna in lingerie.
She goes by the name Marie S’Infiltre on Instagram, meaning roughly “Mary gets inside” in French.